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NIAGADS! We have data!

Marilyn Miller
Marilyn MILLER,
Program Director,
Division of Neuroscience (DN)

Are you studying the genetics of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease? Did you know that the Alzheimer’s disease research community has a database that gives you access to a broad range of genetics and genomics data?

NIAGADS (often pronounced NYE-ya-gads) is the NIA Genetics of Alzheimer's Disease Data Storage Site, a national genetics data repository that facilitates access to data by qualified investigators. NIAGADS archives, processes and distributes data related to the genetics and genomics of Alzheimer’s disease.

It is an essential research resource for scientists investigating Alzheimer’s disease—one of several critical Alzheimer’s research resources funded by NIA, and supported as well by other parts of the NIH and the research community. Have you looked at what’s available? If not, I hope you’ll do so now.

What data does NIAGADS have, and where do they come from?

There is a variety of data available from NIAGADS and sites that partner with NIAGADS. (More on those partnerships later.)

  • genomic data from NIA-funded genetic studies
  • deep phenotype data and biomarkers
  • primary and secondary analyses including CHIP-Seq, RNA-Seq, and expression data
  • genome wide association studies
  • genetic data from case-control, family-based, and epidemiologic studies
  • a variety of basic science and clinical research approaches
  • next generation and  targeted genome sequencing

NIA-funded geneticists share their data at NIAGADS, which complies with the NIA Genetics of Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Sharing Policy.

Learn more on the NIAGADS website.

This chart depicts the genetic and clinical data flow to the National Institute on Aging Genetics of Alzheimer's Disease Data Storage Site (NIAGADS). The Alzheimer’s Disease Centers (ADCs) nationwide provide data on DNA to the National Cell Repository for Alzheimer’s Disease (NCRAD) and data on phenotypes to the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center (NACC). NIAGADS links genotype data to NCRAD samples and NACC data. Information from NCRAD and NACC is then processed through the Alzheimer's Disease Sequencing Project (ADSP) where the data can be analyzed by researchers who share results with NIAGADS. The ADSP also provides data directly back to NIAGADS. Furthermore, other data contributors also share information with both the ADSP and the NIAGADs.

What can you do with NIAGADS data?

NIAGADS provides an integrated tool set for examining and comparing the genomes of affected and unaffected individuals. With it, you can locate single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and sequences on the reference genome. And, you can display and share data.

How can you get access?

Any qualified investigator, whether academic or in industry, may request data at any time. There’s an application process. As you’d expect, your plans for the data have to be approved before you can get access. See How to request data from the NIA Genetics of Alzheimer’s Disease Data Storage Site.

You might be especially interested in the Genomics Database within NIAGADS.

It offers a genome browser that allows users to browse tracks generated from NIAGADS datasets and compare them to personal data tracks. See the track listing.

You can also:

  • combine results by adding steps to a workflow
  • bookmark favorite search results
  • save and share search strategies
  • employ a web development kit

This special set of features was developed through collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania’s Computational Biology and Informatics Laboratory.

Beaucoup next-generation sequence data coming this fall!

A bunch of exciting new data will soon be available in NIAGADS (courtesy of some important partnerships that I’ll describe below). Whole genome sequence data for a family-based study (582 subjects from 111 families) and whole exome sequence data (11,000 subjects) will be available later this fall. Secondary analyses can be published after the main publication. Please begin to consider this opportunity and review the application instructions now. More information can be found here.

NIAGADS partnerships

So, how about those partnerships?

NIAGADS is working collaboratively with dbGaP, the database of Genotypes and Phenotypes, to provide sequence data to the research community.

NIAGADS is developing web interfaces with other existing NIH-funded research resources, including the National Cell Repository for Alzheimer's Disease (NCRAD), the National Alzheimer's Coordinating Center (NACC), and the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI).

NIA and National Human Genome Research Institute are working together to develop and execute a large-scale sequencing project. NIA-funded investigators are analyzing the genomes of well-characterized individuals for identification on a broad range of Alzheimer’s risk and protective gene variants. The ultimate goal is to facilitate identification of new pathways for therapeutic approaches and prevention. Analysis also is expected to provide insight as to why some individuals with known risk factor genes escape Alzheimer’s disease.  NIAGADS is funded as the Data Coordinating Center for this Alzheimer’s Disease Sequencing Project.

Why is NIA making this resource available?

It’s crucial for advancing the science. It also fulfills a key goal of the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease to “establish a searchable, open access database for the purpose of identifying regions of the genome that contain novel targets,” as well as other related directives. NIAGADS is an invaluable resource for researchers, as we seek to find effective interventions for Alzheimer’s disease.

Do you have other questions about NIAGADS? Let me know by commenting below.

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